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The European Commission Is Preparing to Sue Germany Over Its Gas Tariffs

Unnamed Reuters sources said on Wednesday that the European Commission is preparing to sue Germany over its fees for purchasing gas from German storage in contravention of the European Union’s single market rules. 

In a matter of days, the European Commission is expected to file its infringement procedure lawsuit against the German tariff, Reuters reports, citing two unnamed sources, though a spokesman for the Commission told Reuters that talks were ongoing. 

The tariff, according to an EU energy regulator who spoke with Reuters, is creating higher gas prices in some EU countries. 

Germany’s tariff on purchases of stored gas is a relatively new development that arose out of the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when the EU banned imports of piped Russian gas, and in the wake of the shut-down of the Nord Stream pipeline, connecting Russia and Germany. 

Germany is accused of using its neighbors to fill in a fiscal gap created by the need for Germany to fill its storage with more expensive, non-Russian gas. That fee has tripled–at a minimum–since its implementation in October 2022, according to Reuters. 

According to some members of the EU, the bloc’s single market rules do not allow for trade tariffs among its members. 

"We remain in touch with the German authorities on this matter, including at political level...we do not speculate on the possible opening of infringement procedures," a spokesperson for the Commission told Reuters, while an Economy Ministry spokesperson claimed the tariff was in the spirit of “European security” by enabling Germany to fill its storage. 

On Tuesday, the Austrian Vice President of the European Parliament, Othmar Karas, and Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler challenged Germany’s gas transit tariffs before the European Commission, alleging that the higher fees made it more difficult for some of the bloc’s eastern members to give up Russian gas. 

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The end result, according to Austrian authorities, is that Austrians and other members of the bloc–mostly Eastern European–are footing the bill for the billions of cubic meters of gas Germany purchased when prices were high. That gas must now be sold at a lower price, Euractiv reports.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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